Construction has been quietly making progress next to the Independence Building on Muhammad Ali Boulevard between First and Second streets. A small non-descript, completely blank, white building has been remade into a pretty nice, though still sidewalk inaccessible, office building.
The structure is small and during the demolition phase earlier this year, we thought they were taking the entire thing out. Masons soon arrived with bricks and cast stone to add a traditional facade. Windows were punctured into the walls so the building at least recognizes, “Hey! There’s a sidewalk out there,” even though that’s about as far as it’s willing to go. Entrances are gated from Muhammad Ali Blvd. and you must walk around to the alley or to Second Street to enter from the parking lot.
Half the building will be taken over by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital offices which will move from a historic red brick building across Second Street that’s probably going to be demolished for the Center City project. The Independence Building next door contains just over 26,000 square feet and features a mural of Independence Hall of Philly in its lobby. The modern-styled limestone building was built in 1961.